Tuesday, 10 March 2009

A Bite to Eat

The young butcher’s apprentice did not raise as much as an eyebrow at the request for four pints of pig’s blood – he simply gave a grunt and went out the back to retrieve the item for his strangely dressed customer. While it was certainly chilly for the time of year, he did not see why anyone would wish to dress like Nanook of the North and why the pale sunshine that occasionally crept through the clouds should occasion the need for sunglasses.

He thought for a moment and concluded that the man in his father’s shop was some kind of movie star – it was not unusual in the vicinity of Kensington to see the odd celebrity - ensuring that everyone could see them by application of headscarves, baseball hats and expensive designer shades.
Quite why a star of stage and screen would require this much pig’s blood was something of a mystery, but then again, he reasoned, you did hear some very funny things about the rich and famous.

Once safely double bagged and paid for the apprentice returned with some vigour to his previous task which involved a slab of meat and a cleaver. As Vlad left the store he briefly wondered what kind of a person willingly does that for a living.
And the humans are worried about us? He thought to himself, making his way with some haste back to his abode before the time ran out and he swiftly turned into a rather large pile of ash.
His thoughts quickly returned to the subject of his conversation with the Count. The situation in the old country was much worse than it was here since the hunting of Vampires was very nearly a national pastime in parts of Romania. In the old days it had begun with the burning of ancestral homes, and then when the Old Kingdomers had gone to ground the destruction of any home that shielded them.

In more modern times the Communist regime had dispatched death squads to deal with what they had termed the ‘infestation’ of Old Kingdom races. Communism may have fallen, but the death squads remained – the local Vampires, weary at having to run and hide had made the decision to fight back.

He would have to speak to the Count again to get a fuller picture of the situation, after all figures in a loss column can only tell so much.
“Those that have survived have left the city and have scattered to the surrounding countryside,” The Count said with sadness in his voice as they ate dinner.

It should be noted at this point that watching a Vampire feed from a plastic bag is not the best experience. It is similar to watching somebody eating sticky spareribs – in the sense that you just know that the end of the meal they are going to be covered in the sweet, sticky juices. Vampires favour bibs, or at the very least not to wear white.

“According to the field reports this is spreading throughout eastern Europe, and there have already been anti-Old Kingdom groups holding meetings in Amsterdam, Milan and Cologne. The Werewolves in the forests of Germany and France are also at risk…” He continued.

“Hence your e-mail,” interjected Vlad, keen to come to the controversial missive.

“Yes. For too long we have stood apart from the others, fought for ourselves with no thought to our old enemies. We now have a common foe – we should put aside these petty squabbles, these ancient feuds. They are pointless, and imagine for a moment how formidable we would be if we made a pact to stand united.”

“You would never get agreement; it is not the first time that this has been mooted. My father…” Vlad began.

“That was many years ago young Vlad, times have changed. Vampires are all but gone from much of Asia and the Middle East, soon we will be run out of eastern Europe and then what? We cannot keep running and hiding.”

In any case it will not be me doing the telling Vlad. It will be you.”

“Me? Why will anyone listen to me?” He protested.

“You have not heard?” The Count exclaimed. Vlad gave a blank look indicated that he had not.
“Baron von Orloc has been killed. As second in command you are his natural successor – you will lead the remaining pockets of resistance.” He said staring straight at the protesting figure at the other end of the table.
Vlad had wondered why the reports from the border territories between Germany and Poland had gone so quiet. The Count was correct, he was the second-in-command as he had been since his father's time. He had not stepped up to leader then because of his age, but now he was old enough to take the reigns of power. And it terrified him.
The the Count added ominously: “You will have to unite the Old Kingdom.”

“But you are the senior General. I have never fought in my life!” Vlad answered, flustered by this news, “I read reports; I write reports; I am not a leader…”

“You are your father’s son – it is in your blood. But you will need to do this quickly or they’ll be a vacuum of power at the top. Lord Kingsteignton would love that.”

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